Fast, Faster, Fastest: Zigeunerweissen, the one and… infinite?

Maybe it was the recent Hidden Brain episode on Maya Shankar’s path from violin virtuoso to policymaker, or perhaps it was numerous viewings of Seijun Suzuki’s avant-garde film of the same name, but whatever the reason, I’ve gotten rather intrigued by various recordings of Pablo de Sarasate’s “Zigeunerweissen”—just tumbling headlong down the rabbit hole of its insanely fast ending with that mind-blowing pizzicato. Each performance by virtuoso violinists brings a new layer of nuance and idiosyncratic interpretation to this iconic piece.

At almost a full minute under the Itzhak Perlman recording (once you subtract out the seconds of silence), Julia Fischer’s precise yet emotive performance is stunning. But to pick a favorite among these exceptional performances would be to grossly and inadequately shortchange the nature of these extraordinary violinists and of Sarasate’s work.

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Delightful Media This Week: Hidden Brain, PBS Space Time, TED Radio Hour

Hidden Brain-d4dc2bc0fb94c4fa0074fb7ab2e1b681e6245d7a-s600-c85It’s been another wonderfully stimulating week of public broadcasting. NPR’s Hidden Brain podcast consists entirely of a witty, informative interview of Aziz Ansari by Shankar Vedantam on patterns of romance-related behavior (word of caution: a lot of bleepings in this one), while in another corner of NPR, the TED Radio Hour looks at our ability to change. And PBS Space Time once again does a fantastic job nutshelling intriguing topics, this time laying out how to thwart killer asteroids in not just 1 or 2 but 5 ways!

I love how these podcasts and videos build out the story of who we are as a species.